MAU SOFTBALL 5/12/22

Mount Anthony starting pitcher Mia Paligo fires a pitch during Thursday's 3-0 win over Taconic. 

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BENNINGTON — A strikeout was the difference maker in Thursday’s Mount Anthony softball win over Taconic, but not in the traditional sense. It wasn’t starter Mia Paligo sending a Thunder batter back to the dugout with a nasty third strike, though Paligo did pitch a gem.

Instead — with one out in the bottom of the sixth and no one on base — MAU nine-hole hitter Autumn Hayes swung at strike three, but the ball got away from Taconic’s catcher. Hayes hustled her way down the first base line, beating out a throw to reach base safely. That second-chance gave the Patriots a bolt of energy, and they turned that into a three-run inning. MAU rode that momentum to a 3-0 victory.

Allee George dug into the batter’s box next, hitting a hard ground ball to third. The Thunder third baseman went to second to get the lead runner, but Hayes executed a nice slide that threw off the timing of the play as the ball sailed into the shallow part of right field.

Masson Billert stepped in next, and had a de-facto bunt single. She dribbled a check swing just in front of the plate. The ball had some serious backspin, barely staying fair as it hugged the third base line. That loaded the bases for Paligo.

The MAU pitcher made solid contact, flying a ball to left field. The Thunder left fielder was able to get under it, but she was concerned with George standing on second base as Hayes hustled home for the game’s first run.

Two more runs came around to score before Taconic could get out of the inning when Taeya Guetti made solid contact with a ball to third, and another throwing error plated both Billert and George for MAU.

Paligo had an outstanding performance inside the circle for MAU, allowing just one hit while walking one batter and hitting another. She also struck out six.

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“Props to Mia, she worked hard all offseason and it’s showing now,” said MAU co-coach Katie Contrada.

Paligo showed she is a triple threat in the top of the seventh. While putting the finishing touches on her complete game shutout, she made a spectacular diving catch for the second out of the inning on a blooper halfway between home plate and third base.

That highlighted an all-around outstanding day in the field for the Patriots. Grace Kobelia showed her range at the hot-corner at third base, making a couple of really nice plays on some hard hit grounders her way. But it wasn’t one or two players, the entire team played sound defensively. Contrada called it the best defensive game of the season for MAU.

“I was just really proud of the way they came out. Even with runners on base, they didn’t get rattled. They just made the plays they knew how to make, and that’s what you got to do to win games against good teams like Taconic.”

With the defense clicking and Paligo in a rhythm on the mound, MAU just needed to manufacture some runs on offense. The Patriots made solid contact for much of the afternoon, but nearly everything was hit right to a Taconic defender. Then MAU’s fortunes changed for the better in the sixth. Contrada was proud of how the Patriots kept on battling at the plate.

“We had good at bats, but we didn’t get on base a lot. And yet they never gave up. I was proud of them for staying focused at the plate, pretty disciplined, and then being able to capitalize on opportunities when we had them.”

The win is MAU’s third in a row. The Patriots are back above .500 (5-4) and return to the diamond Saturday at Rutland. First pitch is 11 a.m.

Michael Mawson can be reached on Twitter @Mawson_Sports or via email at mmawson@benningtonbanner.com.

Sports Reporter

Michael Mawson is the sports editor for Vermont News & Media. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of New Hampshire in 2019. Michael was the sports editor of UNH’s student newspaper where he covered NCAA Division I athletics.


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